I haven’t always enjoyed math. I didn’t always see the point in a lot of it, and I’d often grow bored in math class when I was in school. The drudgery of sitting and doing problem after problem and solving for X didn’t seem as exciting to me as words and reading and writing.
Homeschooling, however, has given me a different perspective on it all. I’ve also learned some tips along the way that have made math so much more enjoyable for our children.
This is what I discovered.
Math helps us see God’s order.
All of the mathematical formulas and theorems did not come from man. God created them long before. We are simply discovering them and applying them as we seek to understand His world a bit more.
Math shows us that there is order in our universe. There is right, and there is wrong. There is no in-between. And although there may be different ways to solve a problem, there is always only one answer.
We live in a world that is constantly seeking to shift and rebel against His order. We live in a world that is trying to convince us that everything is relative, including math. As homeschoolers, however, we can show our children that there are absolutes. There are boundaries that we must honor. And when we do, we can find what is right.
Math teaches perseverance.
Math can often be challenging. It requires practice and repetition to fully understand the foundational concepts. The good thing is that the more a child practices, the easier it becomes.
Do not be afraid of the practice. Do not fear the repetition. Life isn’t all about entertainment and fun. Sometimes, it’s boring and difficult. And many times, it is the mundane, everyday actions that multiply into something far greater.
If math is difficult for your children, help them measure their progress with charts and stickers. Help them to see how much easier those math facts are after they’ve practiced them, day after day.
Play games or create hands-on opportunities. Learn to enjoy the journey, and bring life to the “boring” and “mundane.” Seeing the opportunity in the challenge is a lifeskill that will carry over for years to come. Learning to persevere is priceless.
Math brings meaning to our world.
Math is all around us. It is how we calculate the gift of time, how we separate it into years and months and moments. It is how we understand shapes and design, cooking and baking. It is how we steward the blessing of money and make better choices for our families.
The more we can connect the real-world to mathematical concepts, the more relevant it will become for our children. When they are little, teach them about shapes and lines and how they can be used to draw God’s beautiful creation. Count raisins and stairs, toys and jumps. Teach them about time and how we can steward it well through daily rhythms and routines. Use math to measure and pour in order to create healthy treats that the whole family can enjoy.
As they grow older, teach them how to manage their time, how to create schedules and agendas. Teach them how to manage their money well, how to budget, and how to invest. Teach them how to work through the more challenging problems, and how to seek assistance when needed. And teach them how to find the answers.
Help for Homeschool Math
When preparing your homeschool math lessons, these are some things that can help you do just that.
1. Aim for mastery.
Math builds on foundational principles, and it becomes increasingly more difficult when there are gaps. As a homeschooling family, you are not bound to grade levels and time frames. Your child can take algebra in high school and be just fine.
What you may not realize is that most homeschool elementary math curricula cap out at 6th grade. The children are then expected to do pre-algebra in 7th and algebra in 8th grade, and 4 years of more-advanced math in high school. If your child needs an additional year or two to "catch up," however, you can slow down as needed and still have time to complete 3-4 years of advanced math in high school.
Do not be tempted to fly through workbooks in order to stay “on track” if your child is not understanding the concepts. Take the necessary time to establish mastery so that you can build more easily in the years to come.
Be open to using supplemental workbooks or online resources for further support. Be okay with slowing down and pausing or speeding up as your child works through the content. What's most important is they are learning and making progress each step of the way.
2. Play math games.
Math games and activities can be a wonderful way to help children master math facts and understand the concepts behind them all. Consider adding real-world manipulatives and scenarios, when applicable, to bring math to life.
If your child is a hands-on learner, you may also consider purchasing a curriculum like RightStart Math, which includes a variety of games and activities in the lessons. Math Lessons for a Living Education and Math-U-See also offer opportunities for hands-on engagement.
Another option is to use supplemental books such as Addition Facts that Stick and Multiplication Facts that Stick. These can be used with any curriculum or workbook to provide additional practice in a fun and engaging way.
For additional math games for preschoolers and kindergarteners, click here.
3. Skip count.
Skip counting has been one of the most important activities we have done over the years. We used the skip counting songs on the Classical Conversations CD’s, but you can use any skip counting songs you find on the internet. Another great option is this CD by Math-U-See.
Plan to sing one song a couple of times each day. Once the children master it, add the next one, and so forth. You can start this as early as kindergarten and continue on through early elementary, rotating through them as you add on more.
We have found this to be SO very helpful in our homeschool, and it has made such a difference in their understanding of multiplication and division. It was such an easy and fun way to prepare them for the more challenging concepts that came later. You can download our skip counting tables in Member Freebies!
4. Use math grid paper.